DIY: Ice Luminaries


Every year I give myself and the family the same pep talk:

Winter, you can’t get the best of us. We’re not going to just survive it. We ARE going to enjoy it. NO complaining. NO whining. Put on an extra sweater. Double up those socks.

Let’s breathe in that fresh cold air.

I even resort to telling outright lies. I love winter. It is my favorite season.

I make long lists of outdoor activities we should do. In reality, most of the time the brutally harsh air pushes me back inside the moment I set a toe out the door. Unaware of how I got there, I find myself under a blanket, with a hot drink in my hand while a movie plays in the background. The truth is I hate being cold. I wish humans hibernated.

But…occasionally I find an activity that can only be done when you have access to an outdoor freezer. Ice Luminaries are one of them. Last year I and my children had a blast making these. Suddenly, your driveway is lined with Fire and Ice. And, even as a winter-hater I have to admit they are magical. Like Queen Elsa of Arendelle might knock at your door sort of magical.

What you Need:

Large Balloons


Tea-light candles or you could use battery-powered Tea-lights


Night temperatures under freezing point- Pay attention to the weather. It should be 20 degrees and colder at night and not getting higher than 32 degrees during the day.



Fill balloons with water. Tie and place outside. Do as many as you want. We did enough to line the sidewalk on both sides up to the front door.

freezing temps, get outside, ice luminaries, outdoor activities, winter


Leave them outside at least 24 hours sometimes you will have to have them out for two days if the temperatures are on the warmer side. Tap on the outside. It should be hard. You should be able to see a bubble of water where it hasn’t frozen completely solid.

freezing temps, get outside, ice luminaries, outdoor activities, winter


Snip and peel off the balloons. Find the spot where the water hasn’t frozen. Let your kids bash that area gently with a hammer. Pour out the water.

freezing temps, get outside, ice luminaries, outdoor activities, winter


Place a tea light or another candle in the opening. When it gets dark. Have everyone put on their winter clothes. Light them and share a cup of hot chocolate together outside. Or go inside and stare out the window at them while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate together. If you are having guest over these are fun to light prior to their arrival.

freezing temps, get outside, ice luminaries, outdoor activities, winter

*Originally published December 2018*

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Melissa Meyers, along with her best friend a.k.a. husband John and two kids worked in Central Asia for ten years with a Christian development organization. Native to Minnesota in 2014, they returned to the greater Rochester area, where she proclaimed to her children, Malcolm (now 11) and Emily (8) it was time to learn “all things Minnesotan.” She is a Neonatal Nurse at Mayo Clinic. Some of her adventures can be found at Thrive Connection, a magazine focusing on Global Women. As a family, building community, spending time at church, staying active, and screen-free times are top priorities. Reading, drinking more coffee than is probably good for her, bird-watching, and painting pictures of coffee cups are her hobbies.